Sometimes I don’t sleep. Fancy that.
It’s been a lifelong “thing” so when I was young I developed this method. I would write myself to sleep aaand by writing I mean think myself to sleep – imagining words scrawled across the back of my eyelids – a story that disappeared as quickly as it was born that helped/helps to soothe the savage insomnia beast most nights.
Eyelid stories are akin to the all night conversations of my youth; fleeting and deep. My angsty teen conversations were always thick and oily as the shitty coffee we readily sucked down because there were certain few places in my hood’ that stay open late and allowed one to pay 2 bucks to smoke and talk and dream without interference.
You youngsters will never experience smoking in a restaurant but it’s a good thing because smoking is bad. According to some chart I just saw somewhere ( reddit) it, tanning beds and plutonium all rank up there as health hazards.
The difference I’ve been able to pin down between the stories I find when I am alone versus those found with others is that during ,y personal moments, alone in bed, I find my truest and most impermanent nature. A story told in that moment, only once and always from that deep dreamless space that grows at the nexus conscious and unconscious awareness.
There is no forward or back with these tales – only inward- digging through layers of muscle and bone. I cannot remember the full extent of a visit to this place and perhaps I should not – there are things that come bubbling to the surface when one tugs back the veil or rational thought - dark things – secret things that hold no weight in the waking world but can seem so large without the protection of the rational ego self . There are also things as light and beautiful as the latticework of a flower petal . Admittedly, there are moments when I wake up, remember snippets of these stories and I swear to myself that I could be a world class author…if only I could remember what it was I crafted that night.
Whenever I consider this sort of spontaneous self-assessment and the dark of deep personal waters I think about a specific phrase in a specific book written by a specific man I’m SURE that you’re floored. That author is Iain Banks and the book is Use of Weapons and the passage is this:
When you sleep beside a head full of images, there is an osmosis, a certain sharing in the night. So he thought. He thought a lot then; more than he ever had, perhaps. Or maybe he was just more aware of the process, and the identity of thought and passing time. Sometimes he felt as though every instant he spent with her was a precious capsule of sensation to be lovingly wrapped and carefully placed somewhere inviolable, away from harm.
This book turns me into a bleeding heart romantic. This book and the English Patient. If you showed up on my doorstep with a bottle of wine in one hand and one of these books in the other…I would fall desperately in love with you and ask if you wanted to lay down in my bed with me and read…seriously give it a try – having books read to me is my love Achilles heel…but then I was trained to this response( Pavlovian you say? Do tell) given that I did not read this book, it was read to me by a lover and a friend and only after the words were filtered through his voice did I pick up and read it on my own. There is such beauty in someone gifting a story to another person.
It was a gift I needed exactly then. A moment of flux from little Sara to big Sara. That time when I started to engage the world in a way that both steeled and un-steeled my heart. I was learning slowly and painfully how to open to the grace of the universe and in some circumstances how to close off my oft too soft innards from the darkest parts of the world. This book and this man helped me weave together a place where I could begin to grow in a compassionate, giving, at times fallible and sometimes crazy pants way. No the book did not make me who I am (if you’ve read it you’ll totally understand how it couldn’t) but it did provide me with space inside. Like breathing into oneself during meditation or yoga asana. That kind of space.
If you have never had a story read to you from start to finish as an adult, you are missing out on a beautiful thing. There is a closeness that mirrors the pathways created by books in one’s youth (my youth) and to tease that memory from the past and move it to the fore, into a new moment, with a new vision and a new set of emotions and desires… it’s like remembering a dream you once had in all of its glory. A dream that has always clung to you but you were never able to pull to the surface…until now.
Sooooo…what does this have to do with eyelid stories besides both ideas springing from the same place? Well, for me this sort of thing is akin to eyelid stories because it creates a series of moments that are transcendent. Moments that find a home in this rational space but like the roots of a lotus are stuck firmly in an-other place. These moments do and do not belong to the participant or the creator – they tap into a larger ethos and become So. Fucking.big. We can call it archetypal resonance. We can call it personal sacred space…I can dig that. Bedding down with a book and another person and staying in that spot. Staying and letting voices and dreams pool, allowing the memory of those moments to embed in a space deep within – deeper than the body.Moments like belong to a larger more ineffable concept. I dunno – maybe this is my concept of god.
A Conclusion of sorts:
I sleep and in sleep I dream. When I cannot sleep and I do not dream I let myself wander beneath the skin of my eyes and write my I fall into the spaces where I am most honest and this honesty is a process retelling the moments that mean something to me. Their meaning reminds me that there are other moments – full and lush and missed because I am not recumbent and considering…and this makes me sad but it also makes the times that I do recognize all that more intense and precious and for me, tinged with the beauty of being something not of the ordinary…
Like reading moments.
Or coffee shop moments.
Or smoking moments.
Or knowing the rawest parts of the self moments.
Or that moment when you realize you’re making love to someone.
Or when you realize that you’re not.
The life that lives in us is eternal life, there’s no doubt about it, and we are bubbles on top of it, and in our bubble existence, our existence in the field of time and space, it’s possible to become so linked to the time-space aspect of the experience that you never realize the depth of it. But it’s possible also to experience the depth.